The Literature of The Harlem Renaissance Dr Sonia Weiner
The Harlem Renaissance – also known as the New Negro Renaissance (and coinciding with the Jazz Age) – is the name given to a period (roughly in-between the two world wars) characterized by an unprecedented literary and artistic outpouring by African American creators, primarily in Harlem, NY, but also in other large urban centers. During this period writers, artists, musicians and ideologues undertook a conscious effort to combat pervasive racism and negative stereotypes, with the aim of transforming African American consciousness into a forward-looking narrative of self-assurance and opportunity. Aesthetic debates surrounding the question of representation were prevalent, as the leading figures of the era considered the role of the black vernacular, the consequence of white influence and the significance of race for contemporary black American identity. While the focus of the course will be literary, there will be constant reference to the art and music of the era and to the dialogue established between the various media.
We will look at theoretical writings by W.E.B. Du Bois, Alain Locke, Charles S. Johnson, Marcus Garvey, Marita Bonner, and George Shuyler.
Literary Texts will include works by Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Toomer and Countee Cullen.